Dear Readers: A year ago January, I determined that, at age 71, I had at least a few productive years left in me, so I decided to continue leasing the office space in which the Long Beach Business Journal has been located since 1991. The business was in good shape, with an excellent staff and a strong group of advertisers, and it was operating in a healthy local economy.
However, a few months later, on March 30, I suffered a stroke. While I survived – due to the quick action of my daughter, April Economides, and the wonderful doctors and staff at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center – I was unable to run the business. My daughter, a single parent with her own consultancy, unselfishly put her life on hold and jumped in to run the Business Journal and ensure it would continue publishing. If she hadn’t, I would have been forced to shut down.
After all these years, I have finally decided to officially retire and sell the business. Effective February 4, 2020, John Molina and his Pacific Community Media (PCM) company will assume ownership and management. PCM owns the Long Beach Post and its publisher, David Sommers, will assume the role of Business Journal publisher. I’m happy to sell to someone local and that the PCM team knows and loves Long Beach.
“Retire” is probably not a word those of you who know me thought you’d ever hear me utter. The LBBJ has been my “baby,” and for more than three decades I worked practically every day to ensure we produced a quality publication. I have loved running the business and interacting daily with the community. But it is time to move on.
Becoming a publisher wasn’t my first stint in journalism. I began my career at age 12, as a newspaper delivery boy in Long Beach, and, while stationed at a pilot training base in the U.S. Air Force’s public information office, I was the editor of the base newspaper after attending the military’s journalism school.
The roots of the Business Journal started 34 years ago. After my decade-long tenure at the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, from 1974–1984, I decided the city was ready for a business publication.
In July 1985, I launched South Coast Publishing, Inc. The first publication (October 1985) was the monthly South Coast Business magazine, covering a market along the 405 Freeway from LAX to John Wayne Airport. Competition for advertisers was fierce, with strong daily newspapers and other more established magazines. Despite cash flow issues and other challenges, I decided to double down.
My first idea was to create special inserts promoting nearby cities, such as Carson and San Pedro, and these proved a big hit. From that success evolved another idea: launching a publication focusing on the Long Beach Airport, which was experiencing healthy general and corporate aviation activity and strong growth in its commercial flight sector, with eight different airlines providing service to destinations around the country. Douglas Aircraft Company, with 25,000 employees, was churning out commercial aircraft like the DC-10 and MD 80; and the U.S. Air force awarded it a contract to work on the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft. Real estate development on airport property was accelerating, with the Long Beach Airport Business Park nearing completion and the Kilroy Airport Center underway.
On March 15, 1987, the monthly Long Beach Airport Business Journal newspaper premiered. South Coast Business Magazine continued into late 1988.
In September 1987, with a growing Port of Long Beach, a recently expanded convention center, and new hotels and office buildings nearing completion, I decided to drop ‘Airport’ from the Business Journal’s name and go citywide as a business newspaper, doubling the circulation and frequency.
In 1995, Douglas Aircraft Company officials approached me about taking over their in-house publication, and so we added The Employee Times magazine to our roster and produced it until C-17 production ceased.
Then in October 2004, we launched Destinations magazine, a monthly publication for tourists and conventioneers that published for 10 years.
Along the way, in an effort attract more advertising and expand our reach, we created numerous special publications. Many of them were about the expansion or anniversaries of key institutions, others were tribute publications honoring former mayors, and our final special publication was The New Long Beach Civic Center, a soft cover book written and produced by my daughter, April, in July 2019.
While there have been many highlights over the years, the one of which I am proudest is our two-year involvement in having the city’s utility users tax cut in half, collectively saving every resident and business tens of millions of dollars over the past 19 years, and forcing city officials to re-visit their spending priorities.
Despite my long history with journalism, my stroke left me in no shape to run a demanding business. After a satisfying career, I am ready to hand over the reins. It has been a fun ride!
I’m grateful that John and his team have the resources to help take the LBBJ to the next level. We’ve come a long way for a self-funded independent publication, but there are even better things to come. It’s time the publication starts digital advertising and other contemporary offerings for our advertisers and readers. I know the PCM team is excited about their new role, and I’ll let them tell you their story directly in the next edition of the LBBJ, which they’re publishing.
I thank every employee and freelancer who has contributed to the LBBJ story – from those who helped start the company to those who stayed on during this transition – as well as everyone else who has helped over the years.
I am grateful to April, who jumped in to save the business and keep it running, while also taking care of me, her consultancy and her daughter. She assumed the role as publisher, ran all business matters, facilitated the sale, and not only kept the ship afloat but also improved it in several ways. If it weren’t for her, I would have been writing this farewell 10 months ago.
A big thank you to our loyal advertisers and readers and to the hundreds of public and private sector officials with whom I have interviewed and interacted over the past three-plus decades. I’ve been fortunate to have a front row seat to a wonderful, evolving city and business community, while concurrently be willing to challenge local government on a variety of issues, especially its use of taxpayer dollars.
As we pass the baton to John and his staff, I hope you will show them the same support you have given me and my team over the years.
We have always aimed to tell it like it is. To be informative, factual, and always fair. To challenge readers to get involved and speak out on issues impacting them and their city. If we’ve been successful in doing that during our 30-plus years, then we’ve done our job.
Thanks for everything. Here’s lookin’ at you, Long Beach!
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